Types of accommodation



Greek Council for Refugees

There are 17 open reception centres in Greece, with the following maximum capacity, where available:

Open reception centre


Maximum capacity

Agioi Anargiroi






Arsis Refugees Shelter


12 families and 8 single-parent families

Doctors of the World Athens



Missions Athens Archdiocese



Red Cross Lavrio



Hospitality Nostos



Future Nostos Moshato


102 (60 UAMs and 14 single-parent families)

Society of Minors’ Care Isavron



Makrinitsa Volos Arsis



Volos Agria



Oreokastro Arsis



Filoxenio Municipality of Thessaloniki, Arsis, Greek Council for Refugees Thessaloniki 28

Arsis Alexandroupoli



Praksis & Red Cross Patras


30 UAMs and 40 families

Praksis & Red Cross

Praksis Petralona





Additionally, there are 24 apartments (of which 19 in Attica, 4 in Thessaloniki and 1 in Lesvos) for a total of 120 persons, managed by the NGO Praksis (Praksis Stegi Apartments Programme).

The reception centres for asylum seekers listed above are not to be confused with the recently created open accommodation centre for the newly-arrived in Eleonas,1 nor those announced to be established in Lavrio and Sindos (Thessaloniki region).2 In order to enter Eleonas Open Accommodation Centre for the Newly-Arrived, it is not required to have applied for asylum, as it is for the aforementioned centres, this is why the 600 beds of Eleonas are not included in the number above. In practice, people remain in Eleonas for 3 days on average and depart, usually without having applied for asylum.

The above have been offering a total maximum of 1,271 places as of September 2015. This number derives from the total capacity of the centres (1,123) and apartments (120), following an estimation of the single parent (8x3) and nuclear family places (12x4) available, wherever the centre does not specify the exact capacity number.

Under PD 220/2007, exceptionally, the authorities may provide accommodation in a hotel or another suitable place if it is not possible to house an applicant in an accommodation centre for reasons of capacity and the applicant is neither detained nor restricted in a border post. However, in all cases, the basic needs of the applicant must be covered.3

The GCR has been housing vulnerable cases in hotels in Athens. The number of persons in hotel varies as it depends on the length of stay and the available budget. In 2014, 219 persons had been temporarily housed in hotels with an average length of stay 17.6 days.

Most of the aforementioned 17 reception centres are run by NGOs, and have been depending on funding, until recently mainly originating from the European Refugee Fund (ERF), whose disbursement in Greece has always been very slow, thereby adversely affecting the level of services delivered to the few asylum seekers provided with a space in one of the centres, including for referrals to hospitals and schools.

The latest version of the “Greek Action Plan on Asylum Reform and Migration Management”, initially presented by Greece to the European Commission in August 20104 was presented during the informal EU Justice and Home Affairs Council meeting of January 2013.5 This revised Action Plan foresaw an increase in reception places, as well as some specialised facilities for children, all of which would be welcome measures if adopted and implemented in practice. However, even with the additional capacity of the proposed new and refurbished centres, the total reception capacity will still fall far short of the actual needs, should the number of asylum applications remain at current levels. Thus asylum seekers in Greece continue to face a high risk of homelessness, destitution and other conditions that hinder or render impossible the effective lodging of an asylum application. The previous Greek Government’s commitment concerning the establishment of 2,500 places for asylum seekers by the end of 2014 was never implemented. On 12 August 2015, the former Deputy Minister of Migration Policy, Ms Christodoulopoulou reiterated that the aforementioned places will be created by the end of 2015.6

According to the Asylum Service, all applicants who are registered are asked whether they are in need of accommodation. If so, the Asylum Service communicates the applicant’s request for accommodation to the National Centre of Social Solidarity (NCSS – “EKKA” in Greek), the competent authority for the allocation of applicants to the existing reception centres/facilities.

According to the NCSS, the total number of accommodation requests received in the first 2 quarters of 2015 (January-June 2015) was 1,899, compared to 1,964 in the respective period of 2014.7

Indicatively, according to the latest NCSS statistics available as of June 2015, the rate of success for accommodation was per category of applicants as follows:

Category of applicant

Number of requests

Rate of success







Single-parent families



Unaccompanied children



The involvement of external service providers (NGOs and others) in the operation of the reception facilities is regulated on a case-by-case basis, depending on the provisions of the individual programme agreement concluded between the external service provider and the Division of Social Protection and Solidarity, Department for the Protection of Refugees and Asylum Seekers at the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Social Solidarity. By virtue of Ministerial Decision 93510/2011, coordination of the third parties involved in the system for managing accommodation was assigned by the Ministry of Health to the National Centre for Social Solidarity (which is placed under the supervision of the Ministry of Labour, Social Security and Social Solidarity).8

An interesting outcome of the 2014 survey conducted by GCR was the finding that reception centres mentioned that people often stay 18 months and even longer, even though Article 13(2) PD 220/2007 limits the stay in accommodation centres to 1 year. Those asylum seekers could be children that have to be accompanied until they turn 18 or adult asylum seekers who stay in the facilities, because they have no other place to go.

Among its recommendations to the Greek government in April 2015, UNHCR called for the adequate staffing of the FRS with qualified personnel and the establishment of FRCs at main entry points, namely on the islands; adoption of the necessary legislative framework for FRS referrals of persons with special needs in hosting structures; and prompt increase of reception capacity to the target of 2,500 places.9


  • 1. Under JMD 3/5262 (Official Gazette Β' 2065/18.09.2015) a new accommodation facility for third-country nationals, asylum seekers and vulnerable groups, with capacity of 600 beds has been created in Eleonas area of ​​Attica, to address the urgent accommodation needs of the said population. The Centre operates under the supervision of the FRS, which is responsible for its daily management. The Ministry of Labour also supports the Centre through implemented programs for vulnerable groups. The Centre is of provisional nature and is scheduled to operate up to 31 December 2015.
  • 2. To Vima, “Two new refugee reception centers in Lavrio and Sindos”, 17 September 2015, available at: http://bit.ly/1Q4f6Qw.
  • 3. Article 13(10) PD 220/2007.
  • 4. European Commission, Joint statement by Mr Christos Papoutsis, Minister of Citizen Protection of Greece and Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner in charge of Home Affairs: Greece and the Commission agree to enhance cooperation on reforming the Greek asylum system, MEMO 10/450, 27 September 2010.
  • 5. Irish Presidency of the Council of the European Union, Discussion Paper – Session II (Home Affairs) Greek National Action Plan on Asylum and Migration Management, Informal Justice and Home Affairs Ministers’ Meeting Dublin 17 - 18 January 2013, available at: http://bit.ly/1PRYYm0.
  • 6. MIAR, Announcement by Ms Christodoulopoulou: “Creation of 2,500 Open Reception Places for Refugees until the end of 2015”, 12 August 2015, available in Greek at: http://bit.ly/1fuGwyY.
  • 7. NCSS, Statistics 1st trimester 2015, available at: http://bit.ly/1WulyVk; NCSS Statistics 2nd trimester 2015, available at: http://bit.ly/1WulCnY.
  • 8. EMN, Second Focussed Study 2013: The Organisation of Reception Facilities for Asylum Seekers in the different Member States, available at: http://bit.ly/1J7ipn3, 13.
  • 9. UNHCR, Greece as a country of asylum: UNHCR Recommendations, 6 April 2015.

About AIDA

The Asylum Information Database (AIDA) is a database containing information on asylum procedures, reception conditions, detention and content of international protection across 20 countries.